It’s enough to fool most people for at least the majority of the time. However, at 7:34a.m on a weekday morning, even the array of business suits, school uniforms and deceptively granny-ish cardigans are not enough to conceal the inner athlete at the core of every commuter on The Glenelg tram.
To take a step back, it is safe now I think to say that I am a commuter. I commute. Partaking in the commutary process is something that I am now involved in. As the weeks pass by, unspoken rules emerge. Never must you make eye contact with anyone. People who do, are either shifty or angrily eying the shifty people with suspicion. Never hold your wallet in your hand if you have a Multi-trip ticket – if you are a teenager, this will lead to automatic assumptions that you haven’t paid when you don’t respond to the “tickets please” catch-cry.
However, none of this matters so much, as the real test begins the second you set foot in Victoria Square.
You can almost hear the inspirational opening chords from “Chariots of Fire” as preparations begin for: The Commuter Race.
Races are run all over the world every day, for various reasons. What makes this one stand out though, is the fact that consciously “its not a race” but subconsciously, everyone is somehow aware of the truth.
Smiles through gritted teeth are aimed left and right, the woman in the two thousand dollar suit tightens her sneaker laces, the shudder of tram doors closing is heard…
There’s no time to take jaywalking laws into consideration, everyone else is on the move and terrible consequences await those left behind. Powering past the fountain, anything goes…people will go so far as walking on the grass (!!!) to get ahead. The group halves at this point; those who are willing to risk life and limb cross the road, despite the little green man, having been overtaken by fiery red anger, losing all reason, beginning to flash.
The sad, sorry, safety group is left in their wake, staring at the shell of what was once a happy green man who used to let anything go.
Here’s where the reckless group divides again, with one group off to continue the battle down one street, and the other charging up King William. One by one they are stripped away, cut off by inconsiderate lines of school children, or left contemplating life and weeping at a traffic light, all the while, the others are raging ahead.
Finally there are two. Shoulder to shoulder, it is impossible to get ahead without letting on that you know about the race. Dilemma. Looking at your competition, it’s impossible to detect emotions…very clearly a seasoned professional. Suddenly, out of nowhere….
“Sue! SUE!!!” your heads whip around – just for a moment, you see fear strike your opponent, as her friend rushes up to her. “SUE! How are you?” With a sigh, she stops, leaving you to move ahead to victory. “Hey, what’s wrong?” the voice so distant its barely audible.
“Oh, nothing…I’m just…tired.”